Penn on why he became The Gunman

SHOOT TO THRILL: The Gunman appeals to Penn (seen here with Charlize Theron) in a way that a lot of action movies haven't because the consequences of violence are present throughout, without weighing down the movie's energy.


    Mar 24, 2015

    Penn on why he became The Gunman


    SEAN Penn is not all gruff voice and intense gaze. He can have a good laugh too, like when he envisions himself as a superhero.

    For the thriller The Gunman, opening in Singapore cinemas on April 9, the 54-year-old actor and activist talked to Reuters about what motivates him in both the movies and the causes he champions. Here are excerpts from the interview.

    Q: What drew you to this story and the character of contract killer Jim Terrier, whom you play in The Gunman?


    It appealed to me in a way that a lot of action movies haven't...because the consequences of violence were present throughout, yet that didn't seem to create a ponderous weight on the energy of the picture.

    Q: How important was it to have the backdrop of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) for the film?


    What was important was that the epicentre of that narrative drive had a history of suffering intervention, be it political or corporate. And certainly DRC has had both, and continues to.

    There were also some real-life parallels related to the mining interests that had happened there. That made it the appropriate choice.

    Q: Has being an actor made it difficult for your voice to be heard for your activism work?


    I've found it harder and easier. Criticism will come more quickly, so will reverence. Generally, both are inaccurate but, you know, I think that I approach work - whether it's creative work, any work I do - very much as a functionary... it's really clinical on both.

    Q: As Ambassador-at-Large for Haiti, what would you want tackled urgently?


    I'd like to see politics redefine its quality of life for people and for everybody to put their sword down and get to the table, it's very tricky there. But I think if you want good things to happen for a country like Haiti, then you need to provide the circumstances where the Haitians can do that.

    You need governance, but you also need a middle class, you need agriculture, they need to be able to export. I think that's probably the biggest issue, the job creation that could come with the kinds of things that Haiti has all the potential in the world to export.

    Q: What roles are you finding yourself drawn to? Any superhero franchises in your future?


    You ask me with a camera on this face and in this time of my life if I would be a superhero? (laughs) Maybe, if there's a very funny one.

    Q: There's always the villain.


    I don't know what I would be interested in doing next. There are some good movies made on that (superhero) stuff, let a few of them be made a year. But I'd like to see this business not drown itself in superhero movies.


    The Gunman opens here on April 9.